Brandi Carlile, a charismatic and activist songwriter long cherished by the folk music community and recently embraced by Americana, stamped a place in history by securing six nominations for the 2019 Grammy Awards, which were announced this morning. Carlile, who’s getting set to host her first all-female music festival in Mexico in January, is part of a big year for women, who enjoyed key nominations in country, Americana, bluegrass and the overall industry categories as well.
Carlile’s album By The Way I, Forgive You, is up for Album of the Year generally, as well as in the Americana category, while her anthemic anti-discrimination song “The Joke” is a prospect for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, American Roots Performance and American Roots Song. She was nominated for a Grammy Award once before in 2015.
Kacey Musgraves also finds herself in a position to be celebrated on Feb. 10 with four nominations. The acclaimed album Golden Hour is up for Album of the Year overall and Best Country Album, while her co-write “Space Cowboy” is up for Best Country Song. Her delicate and romantic “Butterflies” is tapped for Best Country Solo Performance. The artist won Best Country Album and Country Song in 2013 with Same Trailer, Different Park, her major label debut. In Carlile and Musgraves, the Recording Academy seems to be zeroing in on the kind of genre-transcending, populist roots music that made Alison Krauss a Grammy magnet since 1990.
Neo-traditionalist country songwriter Margo Price secured her first Grammy nomination in the Best New Artist category. And Ashley McBryde, one of the admired women who struggles for country radio airplay landed a Best Country Album prospect for Girl Going Nowhere.
Besides Carlile, mostly veterans rounded out the Americana Album category, with nominations for soul singer Bettye LaVette (Things Have Changed), John Prine (The Tree Of Forgiveness), Lee Ann Womack (The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone) and The Wood Brothers (One Drop Of Truth). The Prine album produced two nominees in the American Roots Song category – “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” and “Summer’s End,” both written with Nashville’s understated roots/soul standout Pat McLaughlin.
In the Best Folk Album slot, Nashville’s Mary Gauthier secured an unsurprising nomination for her emotionally epic Rifles & Rosary Beads, an album co-written with combat veterans and their families, most of whom had never written a song in their lives. The super-eclectic pool also includes the swan song from Joan Baez Whistle Down The Wind, the scholarly Black Cowboys by mover/shaker Dom Flemons, the intricate string band project All Ashore by Punch Brothers and the cozy EP Weed Garden by Iron & Wine. A noteworthy breakout in the Roots field is second generation hill country artist Cedric Burnside, who took a Traditional Blues nomination for his Single Lock Records debut Benton County Relic (putting the 40-year-old in competition with elders Buddy Guy, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur and Charlie Musselwhite’s duo with Ben Harper).
The nominees for Best Bluegrass Album are nearly all first time nominees, at least in their current configurations. This category also includes some powerful women who’ve distinguished themselves for years with too little notice, and that’s Sister Sadie, the Nashville-based all female ensemble that dished up the album Sister Sadie II in 2018. The young and wildly talented Mike Barnett took a nod for the collaborative collection Portraits In Fiddles. Austin quartet Wood & Wire earned a nomination for North of Despair. Chicago’s ever-shifting veteran band Special Consensus achieved their second nomination for Rivers & Roads, winner of the 2018 IBMA Album of the Year. Rounding out the field are The Travelin’ McCourys, the next generation offshoot of the Grammy Award-winning Del McCoury Band. This field marks a welcome refresh of who’s perceived by the wider industry as the tops in the genre.
The complete American Roots Field nominations list follows:
45. Best American Roots Performance
For new vocal or instrumental American Roots recordings. This is for performances in the style of any of the subgenres encompassed in the American Roots Music field including Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk or regional roots. Award to the artist(s).
- KICK ROCKS
- SAINT JAMES INFIRMARY BLUES
- THE JOKE
- ALL ON MY MIND
- LAST MAN STANDING
46. Best American Roots Song
A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Americana, bluegrass, traditional blues, contemporary blues, folk or regional roots songs. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.
- ALL THE TROUBLE
Waylon Payne, Lee Ann Womack & Adam Wright, songwriters (Lee Ann Womack)
- BUILD A BRIDGE
Jeff Tweedy, songwriter (Mavis Staples)
- THE JOKE
Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth, songwriters (Brandi Carlile)
- KNOCKIN' ON YOUR SCREEN DOOR
Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine)
- SUMMER'S END
Pat McLaughlin & John Prine, songwriters (John Prine)
47. Best Americana Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental Americana recordings.
- BY THE WAY, I FORGIVE YOU
- THINGS HAVE CHANGED
- THE TREE OF FORGIVENESS
- THE LONELY, THE LONESOME & THE GONE
Lee Ann Womack
- ONE DROP OF TRUTH
The Wood Brothers
48. Best Bluegrass Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental bluegrass recordings.
- PORTRAITS IN FIDDLES
- SISTER SADIE II
- RIVERS AND ROADS
- THE TRAVELIN' MCCOURYS
The Travelin' McCourys
- NORTH OF DESPAIR
Wood & Wire
49. Best Traditional Blues Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental traditional blues recordings.
- SOMETHING SMELLS FUNKY 'ROUND HERE
Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio
- BENTON COUNTY RELIC
- THE BLUES IS ALIVE AND WELL
- NO MERCY IN THIS LAND
Ben Harper And Charlie Musselwhite
- DON'T YOU FEEL MY LEG (THE NAUGHTY BAWDY BLUES OF BLUE LU BARKER)
50. Best Contemporary Blues Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental contemporary blues recordings.
- PLEASE DON'T BE DEAD
- HERE IN BABYLON
Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps
- CRY NO MORE
- OUT OF THE BLUES
- VICTOR WAINWRIGHT AND THE TRAIN
Victor Wainwright And The Train
51. Best Folk Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental folk recordings.
- WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
- BLACK COWBOYS
- RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS
- WEED GARDEN
Iron & Wine
- ALL ASHORE
52. Best Regional Roots Music Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental regional roots music recordings.
- KREOLE ROCK AND SOUL
- ALOHA FROM NA HOA
- NO 'ANE'I
- MEWASINSATIONAL - CREE ROUND DANCE SONGS